Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Learning, playing, or both?

I still remember my year in third grade. It was a big transition year. I remember spending 90% of my day at my desk, doing seat work, focusing on Mrs. Gardner as she taught lessons, and such. I have no memories of using manipulatives or sitting on the floor, only memories (albeit good ones) of several hours a day spent at my desk. 

Third grade in my classroom looks very different. Why? Because I teach 8 and 9 year olds. They're kids. And what do kids do best? Play and move around, a lot. 

I am a firm believer that some of the most authentic learning experiences can happen through the use of hands on experiences and manipulations, which is really a fancy way to say "through play." Authentic learning, to me, means internalizing concepts and skills that they will later use in life. How can doing a worksheet at a desk do that? 
So. What does learning most often look like in my classroom? It looks like kids sitting on the floor using cubes and dice and blocks to build arrays and learn their multiplication facts.
It means kids working together to solve problems and explore concepts. Working together, learning from each other, and helping each other. Can a worksheet teach that?
Children can work at their own pace and can be challenged or supported. It's fun, it's engaging; for me and the kids. I love the excitement they have for math and the groans I hear when I say "time to move on."
Sure...there are times when we sit at desks and they use a paper and pencil. But, more times than not, when you enter my classroom, you'll find kids using their hands, minds, and creativity to master topics ranging from multiplication to pre-fixes and suffixes.

17 thoughts on the matter:

Nancy Claeys said... {Reply}

I so agree about the hands-on teaching methods -- I learn by doing rather than reading about it... :)

Heather{Our Life In a Click} said... {Reply}

They learn so much this way!! I think your students are so lucky to have you!! I want to be in 3rd grade again!

Melissa Bliss Rich said... {Reply}

This is so awesome! My kids would love you!! :)

Dara @ Not In Jersey said... {Reply}

again I tell you I think you're an awesome teacher! I don't have good memories of 3rd grade, it was a hard year for me. luckily Gabbie has a good 3rd grade teacher who I really like!

Gina @ Kleinworth & Co. said... {Reply}

Hands on learning is always my favorite. It's how I learn best so I usually go that route when the books just aren't cutting it for them. This looks like fun!

Kim said... {Reply}

Don't you want to move to Georgia and be my assistant? Heck, I'll let you be lead teacher and I'll be your assistant.

Sarah Carletti said... {Reply}

I couldn't agree more. I can't but think how much better my learning would have been if it was more active!

Dina Lettre said... {Reply}

Hands-on is the best!

Sharon said... {Reply}

You have a fortunate group of kids -- what a great, enthusiastic teacher you are! I still prefer to sit on the floor to learn. Even though I'm long past age 8 :)

Pieni Lintu said... {Reply}

You are so cool teacher!! My son is now on 2nd grade and his teacher says that he has a bit hard time to concentrate whole 45 minutes. I wish that they could do things like you do.. My younger boy is in pre school now and they do things while they play and that's great!

Buckeroomama said... {Reply}

That's one of the things I love about my kids' school --their approach to teaching / learning. Hands-on learning is the best. :)

Anita Johnson said... {Reply}

As a former art teacher, I love this!

Sharon said... {Reply}

Hi, Tamar,
I have nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award. Details can be found here http://sharonodegaard.com/?p=5121

I hope you accept this award :)

Jade @ Tasting Grace said... {Reply}

Looks like a great classroom to learn in!

Mona's Picturesque said... {Reply}

As a mother of a child having some learning issues, I really really love you post & pictures! XO

Party of 5 said... {Reply}

I'm a total play-based learning mama so of course I totally agree with you.

Life with Kaishon said... {Reply}

You are a great teacher! This made my day. I know your students adore your classroom! I want to come back to third grade and have you as my teacher!